What We’ve Been Up To (Grades 3, 6, 8)

Our Homeschool Week

It has been quite a while since I wrote about the flow of our homeschool day. I really like writing these posts because it gives a glimpse of our messy, busy, wonderful homeschool life! Plus, I love looking back and seeing how things have changed.  I’ll link to some of our previous posts from other years down below at the bottom of the post.  (I still feel the challenge of getting one load of laundry folded in this post: Typical Day with Tots & PreKs, when the kids were 18months, 3 and 5 years old.  Seems like we still struggle to get the laundry done from start to finish sometimes!)

I’m not going to give a blow-by-blow like I did in the tots and preK post (but boy, was that fun to read!). Today, I’m just going to give a general snapshot of life here in the Homeschool Den. My kids are now 9, 11, and 13 (ED turned 9 last week!).

This time of the semester, we struggle a bit to get going in the morning. We are decidedly night owls and even ED has transitioned to sleeping in a bit more (that’s because 3 nights a week she has rhythmic gymnastics practice and doesn’t get home until 9pm). (Rhythmic gymnastics is with the ball, hoop, clubs or rope; here’s a picture from a month or so ago.)

Rhythmic-gymnasticsAnyway, our days still start out the same – with the kids doing independent reading while eating breakfast. I usually get the wood stove going and do other assorted chores.

Then we transition into doing a subject together.  (This changes depending on the day.)

Science: We have just finished our Circulatory System unit. We will still spend a little bit of time reviewing some of the terms we learned and ED still wants to do the activity (racing blood!) a couple more times (sending blood to the lungs, flipping the tile to red when it picks up oxygen, then back to the heart before heading off to the body…)! I’ll be sharing that new packet on Monday (hopefully!).

Circulatory-System-Hands-on-ActivityJust in the past day or so, we moved on to the Human Body Systems in general.  We will be spending some time talking about some the key organs and which systems they belong to. (It’s been a couple of years and the kids need the review.) We will be spending some time reading and talking about the reproductive system.  We have a couple of books that cover the topic really tactfully. My youngest in particular has asked some good questions. After that? I’m wrestling whether to do the digestive system with ED; she doesn’t remember much about that unit… or go on to the muscular system. We’ll see!

Lady Jane MovieHistory: Sometimes when we’re doing well on one unit, something else slides. That’s been the case with history.  We learned a lot about Henry VIII, the Reformation in England and his wives for several weeks at the beginning of the semester… and then a week+ slipped by (as we worked on our circulatory system projects). A few days ago, we started watching a movie called Lady Jane (affiliate link), which is pg-13.  It shows the sickly King Edward (Henry’s son who died at the age of 16) and the political maneuvering that put Lady Jane Grey on the throne.  This movie also shows effect that some of Henry’s actions had on the poor.  Henry seized land from the Catholic Church and displaced poor farmers. You have to take a movie like this with a grain of salt –it has a sappy love story and is not exactly historically accurate, but it has some really good points that I could bring out. And, the kids really loved it! Of course, Lady Jane is the “9-day queen”… so you know the movie doesn’t have a good ending. 🙁

Language Arts: I feel good about parts of our language arts and in quite a panic about others. Okay, panic is a little harsh, but I know we have a lot of work to do… Let me start with what’s going well…

ED has worked steadily on spelling.  Over the holiday, I made her two new spelling activities and she really enjoys those!  She worked hard on the Long E sounds and played lots of spelling bingo.  Just this past week, we moved on to the new spelling activities with Long I spellings. (DD has been playing with us too!)

Long i Sound Spelling ActivitiesWe’ve done a bit of grammar too (thank goodness for Write Source Skillsbook (affiliate link)… just assign them a page and call it a day!) We probably need to be a bit more consistent about that.

We’ve also been reading a lot.  I went into a lot of detail a couple days ago about our reading lists (grade 4-6 reading list is here, grade 7-9 reading list is here).

The kids still spend 20 minutes reading in their Literature textbooks each day.  They really like the reading selections and I like that these books talk about literary terms and topicsLiterature-textbook (like character, plot, point of view, persuasion, similes and more…).  DD (who reads them like candy!) just got a new literature book this week – she has started the Language of Literature books. She loves the stories.   LD is reading through the McDougal Littel Literature (I think he’s reading this one). They do this right before we do our writing workshop (we have tons of posts about that!!)  [This post explains how/why we got started with the homeschool writing workshop.]

What has me worried?  Essay writing!  I feel like the kids have made a lot of headway with writing in general.  I’ve written a lot about how things really turned around for us when we changed to using a Writing Workshop model in our homeschool.  Now, looking ahead (for LD in particular) I know we need to work on the skill of essay writing — developing a thesis, creating powerful introductory paragraphs (with good “hooks”), creating persuasive arguments, using specific examples to support… This is a skill my 8th grader in particular needs to work on.  So, figuring out just how I want to approach this is on my to-do list.  I have a half-dozen books on their way from Amazon (and more on order from the library). I let you know if any of them work out well for us. Don’t be surprised to hear more about essay writing at some point in the future!

German: Our foreign language has been consistent, fun, and organized.  It’s always good when something is going well and easily!  ED in particular *loves* German.  I have a huge post about what we’ve been doing (hmm… why didn’t I publish that yet?!!).  I’ll just say that the kids have made enormous progress this year and love the structure of our lessons:

  • Valentines-Day-Bingovocabulary building activities (role playing, vocabulary games, worksheets) The kids learned all the Valentine’s related words in the past week or so and we’ve moved on to the countryside (hill, path, branch, twig, shrub, fence… and vocabulary like that).
    • reading (we have a fabulous book with texts on different themes)
  • movies (in German!)

We hope to go overseas this summer and hopefully the kids will use their German quite a bit!

Math: This is the most consistent subject in our homeschool. Even on days when we’re on the go, math tends to get done.

LD (grade 8) is doing Algebra.  I like the textbook he’s using; he seems happy with it too.

DD (grade 6) is actually using 3 math books: PreAlgebra, Math Reasoning (Level G), and Challenge Math.

ED (grade 3) works on arithmetic skills (like double-digit multiplication and long division. She has just started fractions and will be slowly moving into adding fractions with unlike denominators.  This is a huge mental leap. I’ve had some long conversations with hubby about moving her on to this topic. We’re moving slowly and cautiously forward because I want to be careful not to crush her love of math.

Computer Science: Hubby has been doing computer science with the kids this year.  He had them help him build a computer, explained the inner workings of the computer, and had them work with Scratch for a few weeks. Then he had them use Code Combat, which teaches kids the basics of programming.  (It is something we paid for.)  LD is doing really well with it.  DD really enjoyed the lessons, but recently it has become quite challenging for her so she needs to work on it when hubby is home. Code Combat is too hard for ED (grade 3) even though she was keen on lessons with Dad.


DD-FluteThis year our family has been lucky to participate in a local homeschool band, which is run by three retired music teachers.  LD started playing the saxophone. ED started the trumpet and French horn (long story!).  DD is in her second year of flute.  Since the homeschool band is very easy for DD, she auditioned for a local wind ensemble.  She got in has been really challenged by the music.  She and I go together (and I play the oboe).  It is a mixed group of adults and kids.  Two of my kids have online lessons via takelessons.com. That works well because their lessons are online and we don’t have to travel anywhere!

Field Trip… Learning about Gonshi, “scholar rocks,” and more at the National Arboretum.

Chinese-PavilionWe got to see bonsai trees that were given to the USA by Japan in 1976 for the bicentennial celebrations.

If you were a scholar living in China 1,000 years ago, you might have one of the stones below (lower left) on your desk. You can’t tell from the photo but it’s about 15 inches high.

bonsai-treesSo, that about brings things to a close.  Some days we’re more productive than others. The kids are becoming much more independent with their work which is lovely to see!  It is such a privilege to be able to homeschool!

Here are some similar posts from through the years:


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